If you can judge a man by what he grows, then the smog-ravaged sage plant expiring slowly on a London balcony doesn't speak much for me or my careful husbandry.
You can imagine then why I'd be keen to turn my back on this shameful scene and to take up an offer of a day in the English countryside, being shown around the home farm and the secret gardens of the heir to the throne.
Prince Charles is coming visiting downunder in November as the frosts settle on his $1.4 billion landholdings, so, no mystery why his loyal retainers at Clarence House are keen for New Zealanders to hear and see more about the man who would be King.
My guided tour turns out to be timely - a firsthand glimpse of an estate that a rather tiny but vocal minority here in the UK want handed back.
Handed back to whom is far from clear, since the Duchy been in existence more than six centuries. The government? With the UK government borrowing like mad to service a public debt of more than two trillion dollars, the Duchy of Cornwall would cover the cracks for about 24 hours, maybe a weekend if it was quiet.
And it is very quiet down in the heart of the Duchy holdings. Prince Charles' country house Highgrove is a perfumed place of almost monkish contemplation, showing little trace of the 35 000 who visit here each year. Perhaps that's because Highgrove doesn't welcome visitors under 12 on its tours. As a rule the English don't really do childhood I'm finding.
The treehouse where we're told Princes William and Harry spent happy hours is preserved as something of a museum exhibit alongside the bronze garden sculptures, fernclad stumperies and a plucky startled horoeka, just hanging in there among the tree ferns in the Southern Hemisphere garden.
I got a much better sense of the landlord from meeting one of Prince Charles' longest serving stewards. David Wilson has run the three farmed tracts that encompass Highgrove for 27 years, most of the time as a fully converted organic dairying, oats and barley farm.
Farmer Wilson patiently explains the Prince's philosophy is partly about showing the true cost of food. Modern cows in the UK "almost starve to death". The neighbours herds can yield up to twice the milk compared to the Prince's Ayrshires, but live about half as long.
The Prince of Wales' public face as a massive greenie bears some examination. He's a huge fan of wool, supporting initiatives to get it on catwalks and designer racks. He spurns chemical fertilisers; Home Farm when I visited was swathed in the kind of rolling fields of clover you'd see anywhere from Kaikohe to Kurow. They claim the fields here also have more bird and insect life thanks to the miles of hedgerows laid down, some by the royal green fingers themselves.
Another loyal associate points out that Prince Charles was stumping a TV show warning that the earth was drifting out of balance long before Al Gore had plugged his book, film or powerpoint.
It'll be fascinating to see how that all goes down when the royal couple reach the Canterbury A&P Show near the end of their week in New Zealand. There they may find one or two deep Greens who agree with a lot of the royal philosophy but can't abide the monarchy; and fifth generation members of the squatocracy with a lot of time for a Prince and his consort, less for a prophet of environment impact.
That said we're pretty pragmatic people. A head of state that other people pay for seems like a pretty pragmatic arrangement.
One that also advocates for the kind of products New Zealand makes it's living selling would be a bonus. And if you get the chance to ask, he may even have a few gardening tips.